January 15, 2011

How Great a Debtor

About a year ago, I was at home packing up the last of my things. My life for the next 18 months was going to be packed away into brown boxes, and placed in a storage unit. Everything was in order. My enrollment at BYU-Idaho was deferred, my facebook account was closed, and I had traded in my favorite red ballet flats for black, sturdy walking shoes. I had been called by a Prophet of God to labor in the Montana Billings Mission. The upcoming 18 months were to be completely foreign to me. I didn't know what to expect, and quite frankly, I was terrified.

It was a cold and drizzly day in Ferndale, and my outlook on my future was beginning to look about as dismal. As I methodically packed away my favorite pair of jeans, my favorite red shoes, and my red Scottish plaid blazer, I started to feel overwhelmed with the immensity of everything that was before me. I would be trading in my sundresses for mid calf skirts, and my Friday night activities for proselyting. It was official. I was going to be a missionary. Suddenly, in a moment of utter selfishness, tears welled up in my eyes as I began to contemplate everything I was "giving up" for Montana, but ultimately for the Lord. How could he ask me to do this? Put my life on hold for a year and half? Put off my education? Say goodbye to a boy I very much loved? Leave dear friends behind with the potential of never seeing them again? Give up any kind of freedom, and fun? Not see my family, my best friends for 18 months? It was almost too much to bear. I didn't think I could do it. I began to pray. "Heavenly Father, really? Is this really what you want me to do?" The answer for the 176th time was, "Yes."

So I went. I left. Three weeks later, I was sitting in the MTC. That was the roller coaster ride of all roller coaster rides. But I found my testimony. I came to know that truly, we have a prophet on the earth today. A real live prophet. I came to know that Joseph Smith really did, in all actuality see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. It really happened. It was all true. Everything I thought I knew I came to really know. Then it was time to come to Montana. The real test of faith was about to begin.

A year later, here I am. I have had ups and downs; highs and lows. I have had the purest joys, and the deepest sorrows. I have gone to bed, so excited for the alarm to go off at 6:30 AM to get to do it all over again. I have gone to bed, feeling the most utter despair imaginable, unsure if I could go on. Yet, that Montana sun always rises. Each day is a new day filled with promise. The promise that somewhere out there, someone is searching for the truth. God has entrusted his missionaries to be the bearers of that truth.

Suddenly a year later, the reality of my situation hit me. I had been blessed more abundantly than I could have ever imagined. Looking back on that drizzly day last January when I thought I was so nobly "giving up" my life, I could never have imagined how much I would gain. Each and every day, as a missionary for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ I feel eternally indebted to him. I can never repay the Lord for what He has done for me as I've served in Montana.

"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." (Matthew 19:29)

This took on new meaning. The loudest songs of praise to the most high God could not fully encompass my gratitude. In moments of despair or discouragement I think of my Savior. He is the reason I am here. He has given me more than I could have ever hoped to gain. I testify that He lives. I testify that He will come again. I know that my Redeemer lives.


  1. Entering the waters of baptism myself while you were just five I thought about the time my children would serve the Lord and be missionaries. As the years unfolded and my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ grew, my gratitude for those who brought the gospel to me was deeply embedded in my heart and I continued to look to the day that I too would have a missionary in the field.

    The sweetest days as you prepared on this journey were in the Temple of our God. For there, the spirit enlightened our minds, drew us together and spoke peace of this sacred opportunity and has allowed that peace to linger in my heart and soul.

    Saying goodbye to you for eighteen months was hard…we miss your smile, your laugh, your insight, the sound of your voice. But, the joy of hearing of those whom you have taught and touched has been greater than I would have imagined. There is not a time that I don’t read of your service that tears are not streaming down my face. For the worth of souls is great in the sight of God and as you serve that truth has been witnessed to my heart time and time again. There is no greater work on this earth than to share the sweet message of our Savior, Jesus Christ with those around us.

    So my dear, serve with all your heart. Know that the joy of your service touches those around you and those whom you have left behind for a time.

  2. Em,
    You are amazing! I am a little jealous that you get to serve a mission, but so proud of you! You are an amazing lady and I am sure you are an amazing missionary! On top of all of that you are very gifted. You are so good at putting life into words and making it something we can't pull away from. You are a great writer!
    We love you lots... enjoy the rest of your mission!

  3. Thank you so much for your Post Sister Buchanan! i think i felt the same way as i packed away my "life" into boxes...but every tear, every pain that i have felt on my mission, has been coupled with assurance that My Savior lives and loves me. and the reassurance that I AM doing what he wants me to do!